Gatorade has teamed up with the Los Angeles Rams to debut a powerful short film about Los Angeles Rams receiver Robert Woods as he recalls growing up in Carson, Calif. and the biggest inspiration of his life and career in the NFL – his older sister Olivia Woods, who was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma at the age of 12. Following a five-year battle with this rare form of cancer, Olivia died in 2007. Robert was 15 years-old at the time of her passing.
"My sister's attitude and approach to life as she battled her cancer had a huge impact on me," Robert said. "The doctor told her she only had a few months to live when she was diagnosed, and she ended up living multiple years beyond that. She was my role model and I hope that Olivia's story inspires everyone who watches this film."
The film was created by Peabody award-winning Shamrock Studio / DLP Media Group, which also recently won a pair of sports Clios – Silver for Social Good and Bronze for Film – for Fighting For Light, The Concrete Rose, a Rams short film that premiered last year and features Watts-based amateur boxer Meryland Gonzalez. Born and Bred production credits are below. The film, which is a part of Gatorade's current "Greatness Starts with a G" ad campaign, will live on the Rams YouTube channel.
Born and Bred follows Robert's football journey where he first began to dominate the gridiron as a youth player on the Carson Colts and then at Junipero Serra High School prior to becoming an All-American standout at the University of Southern California. The film chronicles Robert as he prepares for his first season in front of fans at SoFi Stadium. Born and Bred not only takes a look at the people and places that helped make Robert great – those he represents every time he puts on a Rams uniform – but it particularly focuses on his big sister Olivia, whose unwavering support, encouragement and love has driven the local hero to succeed in his career long after her absence. She saw something in Robert early on, attending his youth football practices and games, cheering him on from the sidelines. And while Robert fought to pursue his dreams, she fought for her life. As the film notes, Olivia's last words to Robert were: "Be a [role] model."
The film is a dynamic narrative of scripted re-creations mixed with documentary footage, casting Robert Watson and Scott Altenberg to play their real-life roles as Robert's youth football and high school coaches, respectively. Current players on both the Carson Colts and Junipero Serra High School football teams participated as extras. Robert's game-worn high school jersey was also featured in the film. The jerseys were unofficially retired after Woods and Serra won the Division III State championships to conclude their undefeated season in 2009.
"We tried to be as authentic as possible when telling Robert's story," said Head of Production at DLP Media Group Matt Schlef, who directed the film. "We captured the people and places of Robert's childhood and worked closely with his family. Robert is such an inspiration to the LA community, his team and his family, and the biggest inspiration for him is the memory of his supportive older sister Olivia."
"Robert epitomizes what it means to be a Los Angeles Ram on and off the field, and this short film will give fans a glimpse into the experiences, adversity and relationships that have guided him throughout his journey," said Lexi Vonderlieth, Rams Vice President of Brand Strategy. "We are thrilled to collaborate with DLP Media Group and Gatorade to create a meaningful video that also illustrates the impact Oliva had on his life and how she continues to be an inspiration for Robert on his road to recovery."
Robert originally signed with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017 after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Buffalo Bills who selected him in the second round (41st overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft. Since joining his hometown team, he was voted a team captain and has consistently ranked among the league's best receivers.
Robert was on pace to deliver another successful season before suffering a season-ending injury in Nov. 2021, two months after filming of Born and Bred concluded. He finished the year with 45 receptions for 556 yards and four touchdowns through nine games along with 46 rushing yards on eight carries. Robert remains in Southern California rehabbing with the support of his wife, Alexandra, and newborn daughter, Shi, and the motivation to return to elite play in honor of his family, fans and Olivia's legacy.